Making a living as a voice artist is not as easy as it may seem, especially in an industry that often overworks and exhausts performers. Any person working in voiceover, or any person relying on their physical capabilities for work, needs to prioritize the care of their body, mind, and soul because their livelihoods depend on it.
Taking steps like eating right, exercising, developing routines, and practicing our talents, help keep our vessels robust, healthy, and performing at the highest levels. As a vocal artist, I recognize the importance of maintaining my vocal health, and that’s why I have trained myself to become a vocal athlete.
To be a voiceover actor is to know that physical artistry is an act of expression. It’s the act of movement within our bodies that we express to do our work. When we use our physical ability for work, we become more aware of the way our bodies are constantly moving and working. And even when we aren’t aware of it, our brains are sending messages throughout our bodies, so we can perform life’s most basic tasks, like breathing, swallowing, and blinking.
Much like these essential functions, our unique sound (or voice) is created through our vocal cords. All of our voices have a unique pitch, tone, and vibration that make us identifiable. Our vocal cords give us our tone, and our mouth is the vessel that sound is expressed through, but what makes our sound unique is the two tiny muscles within our larynx. When breathing, the muscles release and contract to allow airflow from our nose and mouth into our trachea and lungs. It’s a process we don’t see, but it’s vital to our ability to produce sound. And for a vocal actor, it’s imperative.
Now that we know how important these small muscles are, we have to learn how to care for them. Vocal health is essential because our voice can be delicate. If we scream too often or use high or low pitches that are not within our mid-range, we can strain or greatly damage our vocal cords– sometimes even to the point of needing surgery. It’s a voice actor’s worst nightmare.
The people most at risk for damaging their vocal cords are singers, drill instructors, theater performers, and artists who use their voices regularly. Anyone who has to yell often or exercise their range regularly needs to consider vocal health maintenance for their overall wellbeing. If you are a vocal professional, it’s important to take time to rest your voice, even scheduling a time not to make your vocal cords work. Resting your vocal cords, or breathing without making any sound from the throat at all, is a great tool to rest your instrument. In addition to rest, warm tea and hot water are soothing for these muscles.
For total muscular wellness, it’s also important to eat healthy food and to avoid foods that have too much spice or acid, because they can burn through the esophageal lining within your throat. Warming up with vocal exercises and musical scales can also help perfect your vocal range and exercise the muscles when you need them to perform at their best. Lastly, reading out loud can be a helpful tool.
As a vocal performer, I take my vocal health and wellness seriously. If you make vocal health a part of your total wellness practice, your artistry will flourish. A great resource for me along my vocal health journey has been Mama Jan Smith. Check her out and tell her I sent you!